New Orleans Saints: 5 Rookies Who Will Make Immediate Impact in 2012-13 Season
The Saints arrived late to this year's draft party.
Thanks to last year's draft day trade with the New England Patriots and the NFL's bounty penalty that took away their second-round pick, the Saints had to wait 88 picks before making their selection in this year's draft.
Fortunately for the Saints there weren't many glaring needs that needed to be addressed through the draft. Their offense is lethal, and through free agency they have been able to add quality players to the defense.
That doesn't mean they did not pick up some talented players in the draft though. Here are five rookies that have the potential to have an immediate impact.
Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina
With the 89th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Saints selected defensive tackle Akiem Hicks from the University of Regina.
Hicks, at 6-5 325 pounds, fits the mold for a NFL defensive lineman.
He is a raw talent and needs some coaching, but with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in town, that shouldn’t be a problem. Spagnuolo is known for getting the most out of his defensive line, which could work wonders on Hicks. Hicks is the type of interior lineman that Spagnuolo loves.
He will immediately compete for a spot in the rotation and could eventually start for the Saints.
The Saints love to keep their defensive line fresh, usually rotating four to five guys during the course of a game.
Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
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With their fourth-round selection, the 122nd overall, the New Orleans Saints selected Wisconsin wide receiver Nick Toon.
Toon is an athletic, possession receiver with great size and great hands. He is known for making acrobatic catches, which could lead to him becoming a popular target of quarterback Drew Brees.
The Saints will keep five or six wide receivers on their roster for the 2012 season.
Receivers Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are guaranteed a roster spot, which means Toon, will compete with Courtney Roby and Adrian Arrington to fill the void left by the departure of Robert Meachem to the Chargers.
Andrew Tiller, OL, Syracuse
With their sixth-round pick, No. 179 overall, the New Orleans Saints selected Syracuse guard Andrew Tiller.
The Saints need depth at the guard position after losing All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.
Like fellow rookie Akiem Hicks, Tiller is a very raw talent. He has struggled to keep his weight down and struggles tremendously in pass blocking situations.
Tiller will not be a starter on day one and may not even see the field at all during his rookie campaign, but if history repeats itself injuries will riddle the Saints offensive line, which could force Tiller into the mix.
Tiller’s huge size allows him to be a formidable run blocker and he undoubtedly has the upside to be an NFL starter one day.
Corey White, DB, Samford
New Orleans selected Samford DB Corey White with the No. 162 overall pick in the fifth round.
White played cornerback at Samford, but lacks the speed and agility to keep up with receivers at the NFL level. He will most likely make the move to strong safety and his initial impact will probably only be felt on special teams.
He will compete for a roster spot and may end up landing on the practice squad as a rookie.
With that being said, the fact that White hails from an FCS school does not mean this kid lacks any confidence. A few days after being drafted, White expressed just how confident he truly is.
"It's going to be fun picking off some balls from Drew Brees," he said (via the Times-Picayune). "It is going to be real fun. "I am real confident in my game. You have to be confident to play this game."
Jerico Nelson, SS, Arkansas
After a standout four-year career at Arkansas where he finished with 169 tackles, 26 1/2 tackles for losses and four interceptions, Jerico Nelson went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Nelson, however, did not have to wait long for a job as the Saints came calling almost immediately after their final selection.
Nelson will be given a shot to earn a spot on the final roster, and could contribute on special teams from day one.
He may be a long shot to make the final 53, but he reminds me of Bob Sanders. He is only 5'9", which is probably why some teams were hesitant to call his name on draft day, but this SEC-experienced safety packs a punch.
He will battle fellow rookie Corey White for a spot on the team, with the loser probably ending up on the practice squad or cut.
Right now, my money is on Nelson.
White has the size advantage, but he faced FCS talent in college, while Nelson performed at a high level week in and week out in the all-mighty SEC. Advantage: Nelson